Wetland habitats are considered to be biologically significant and vital in reducing flood risks and protecting aquatic life, yet they are decreasing at a rapid rate, causing many species to decline.
Leading wet civil engineering firm Land & Water has been appointed by Earth Trust as part of its River of Life II scheme to support in the creation of valuable wetland habitats. River of Life II is a partnership project between Earth Trust, Church Farm Partnership and The Hurst Water Meadow Trust to demonstrate landscape management of water and wetlands, clean rivers and the importance and value of water to nature and people.
Land & Water will be operating across four sites, from the end of May until the end of August, to carry out a range of works to increase biodiversity and improve water quality.
At Clifton Meadow, Church Farm and Overy Mead, Land & Water will be excavating 44,000m3 of ponds and backwaters on the banks of the River Thames as well as constructing four culvert crossings to allow the Thames path to connect to the backwaters. The scheme will improve the connectivity of flood flows into the flood plain to provide refuge for juvenile fish during times of flooding whilst also providing much needed habitat and flood storage. At the fourth site, Little Wittenham Wood, Land & Water will be creating a series of newt ponds near Wittenham Clumps to support the local great crested newt population, which is one of the largest populations in the country.
Land & Water’s Project Manager, Tom Cartmel, said: “Land & Water always looks to maintain and enhance the UK’s water network, taking into consideration its role as an ecosystem in providing habitats for a range of wildlife.
“We are extremely proud to be part of the River of Life II scheme which aims to not only create a unique wetland landscape, but also support flood attenuation, carbon sequestration and improve water quality.”
As part of the company’s wider commitment to increase biodiversity and enhance the ecology in the areas in which it works, Land & Water also has its own Habitat Creation Scheme which uses inert and non-hazardous soils to restore part of the Rainham and Wennington Marshes SSSI.
This scheme will see Land & Water operating the marshes until 2042, resulting in over six million tonnes of wet and dry spoil material being repurposed and 110 hectares of valuable habitat being created, encouraging greater areas of greenery along the Thames Corridor.